I woke up early. Well, when I say I woke up, I mean I got up. We weren't really sleeping all that much in the first week. In fact, for the week we had pretty much camped in the lounge room together, pushing the lounges and the ottoman together in a big 'bed'. That's where we lay, not really sleeping, not really awake, just processing and being close to each other.
I don't remember much more of the morning, until 10, when we got ready to go to the viewing. Right from the start I had said that I did not want to see Sam, that I had a picture in my head that I didn't want erased. Mind you, I had seen him lying in that bed anyway, and every time I said that, it was that image that came to my mind, not the one I wanted to remember.
It wasn't until we got to the funeral home that I decided I wanted to look at him. In hindsight, I'm glad I did, but gee it was hard.
He looked great in the bright green Living End t-shirt, and the hemp jeans he had bought in Manly and was so proud of. His hair was clean and curly, like I remembered it, but there was something wrong (well, of course there was, he wasn't alive). He was too cold, too still.
The moment I saw him I broke down. I think it was then that it became a little bit real for me. I cried and cried and cried but couldn't bring myself to touch him. Finally I stroked his hair, said goodbye and put the note I had written for him in his pocket. That was enough for me. I sat in the chapel a little longer, while some of the others came in, then I went out into the waiting room. That was it for me. I didn't want to go back.
The time between the viewing and the funeral is also a blur, but I think I had a nap.
James came to pick us up around 3pm. He drove us there in our car. I was pretty OK until we went round the roundabout into the crematorium. There were heaps of people standing outside the chapel, and I was pretty overwhelmed. James dropped us off around the back and I knew it would take a few minutes to 'get my shit together'. I went down to the toilet and actually hid when I saw someone coming out of there. I don't know who it was, but I wasn't ready.
A few minutes later we walked out to the front of the chapel. I couldn't believe how many people were there! The first person that came up was my mum. She gave me a hug and from then on, I couldn't stop the tears. So many people came up and hugged me, some I knew well, some I didn't. There were people there I hadn't seen in years, and family who had come from Melbourne. My uncle Steve had flown up just for the service. I remember breaking away from someone to hug my uncle Eric, who I'd just spotted behind them (I'm sorry if you were that person). I could hear the music we'd organised playing in the background: The Living End, Offspring, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Green Day; it seemed weird but also so right.
We'd specifically asked for no flowers, so I was happy to see how they had set up Sam's coffin. Phillip (the funeral director) had been so wonderful; so understanding and willing to accommodate anything we wanted to do. These are the things that were arranged on the coffin:
- His football: he wasn't a huge footy head (thank god!), but he was pretty active, and had worked hard to develop his fitness and skills over the past couple of years.
- A little guitar: we bought this for him at a little market in Fremantle. Significant because he was really getting into the guitar in the last couple of years. (As an interesting side-note; Sam had been Googling guitar chords and learning how to play his favourite songs. The first one in his folder in 'Time of your life' by Green Day. You'll see later why this is significant).
- The Mambo bag. There were two reasons for this: he loved surfwear, especially Rip Curl and Mambo; and the bag appealed to his sense of humour, which we wanted to highlight. He thought the bag was so funny, he bought a t-shirt so he could get it (truth told, he probably did want the shirt too!), and then hung the bag up on his bedroom wall.
- The hat. I'm not really sure why we included this. Sam was always a good hat wearer. and had a heap of them, but maybe it was just because a couple of my favourite photos of Sam included the hat: